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post #1 of Old 09-10-2012 Thread Starter
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Hit by lightning?

Have you ever seen a sailboat that was hit directly by lightning? I have inspected only one. A 50' fg sloop hit at its mooring near Eastport, ME. It had several holes in the hull. The interior looked like someone had set off primer cord along the routs of all wiring. No one was aboard and it was recovered before it could sink. What a mess! Surviving the "explosion" would have been more than I want to consider. Repairing the hull so it could be kept afloat if you had any way of summoning help would have been a challenge. Toss the handheld stuff into the oven if you are riding out a thunderstorm!

We are planning a cruise to Duluth. We have spent some time on Lake Superior and have ridden out waves of thunder storms camped on the Apostle Islands. Very impressive! My main anxiety about this trip is dealing with those storms. There is nowhere to hide on that beautiful lake so riding out thunderstorms looks like it will need to be part of the plan. What do you folks do sailing there?

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post #2 of Old 09-10-2012
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Re: Hit by lightning?

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.... Toss the handheld stuff into the oven if you are riding out a thunderstorm! ....

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Could you explain a bit more what you mean by this, and what you are hoping to accomplish?

Thank you.
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Re: Hit by lightning?

The oven acts as a Faraday cage and redistributes the electrical charge away from the contents.

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Re: Hit by lightning?

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The oven acts as a Faraday cage and redistributes the electrical charge away from the contents.
Thank you.

DR, I've always enjoyed your level headed posts, and am delighted that you are now a moderator.

I don't have an oven, would any metal box have a similar effect, or does it need to be double walled?
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Re: Hit by lightning?

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Thank you.

DR, I've always enjoyed your level headed posts, and am delighted that you are now a moderator.

I don't have an oven, would any metal box have a similar effect, or does it need to be double walled?
Any metal box should work. The microwave is a good alternative to an oven if you have a microwave onboard. Doesn't have to be solid metal or double walled either. A copper mesh enclosure works also if you want to construct one and will be lighter than a solid metal box, for best effect place items on a non-conductive material inside the cage to keep them from contacting the cage. The idea is that a charge will travel on the outer surface of the Faraday cage and not "jump" the open space in the center.

I always toss my cell phone, handheld radio, and a handheld gps into the unplugged microwave during storms. Must work since I haven't been struck by lightning

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Re: Hit by lightning?

Thank you for those kind words, skygazer.

I'm not an expert on Faraday cages and I'm more than sure others on this forum can provide more complete information but I do know that they are not perfect or foolproof (but get you closer than if you do nothing), they can be made out of something like copper mesh as long as the "cage" is completely and uninterruptedly covered with the mesh and that to make it closer to working more effectively it must be grounded.

That is pretty much the extent of my knowledge. However, I am going to make it a winter project to research and perhaps construct a small dedicated cage to store our electronics when not on the boat as another boat in our marina recently took a direct lightning strike while in the slip. I'm thinking when we're locking up the boat to leave just drop our handhelds and fixed radio into the cage as part of our regular routine. It's probably better than nothing as they aren't safe even if they are not plugged in. I think the grounding part will be the most difficult.

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Re: Hit by lightning?

A Faraday cage is a metallic enclosure that prevents the entry or escape of an electromagnetic field (EM field). An ideal Faraday cage consists of an unbroken, perfectly conducting shell. This ideal cannot be achieved in practice, but can be approached by using fine-mesh copper screening. For best performance, the cage should be directly connected to an earth ground. This definition is from TechTarget.

I am thinking I might just put on my survival suit, too! A layer of neoprene that could insulate, deflect debris as well as keep you afloat might be a reasonable exercise. It would afford me an opportunity to practice getting it out of its storage bag. It would increase the difficulty of bending over to kiss myself good bye! After the blast it could be removed to allow retrieval of the hand helds to summon help and make it possible to jam fids into the exit holes that are sinking the boat! Glad I put that bilge pick up option in the Lavac's input line. That gives me two hand operated bilge pumps! Yikes!

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Re: Hit by lightning?

I am not sure how efficacious an oven or a microwave will be.

A steel boat with items disconnected from the hull and sitting on a wooden table sounds like it should be a faraday cage.

Well when I got hit on my steel boat two of the electronic items on the table were fried, along with a random selection of items that I had not had time to disconnect. my Yaesu ham radio survived although it was still connected to the backstay and the power supply.

The wetware survived although very scared and deaf for about 24 hours.
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Re: Hit by lightning?

Sounds like the survival suit is the way to go! Jeez!

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Re: Hit by lightning?

A microwave is a perfect cage or it would let microwaves out of the box and cook your head. I have never heard of anyone hit that had items destroyed inside a microwave oven.
Ammo boxs etc will all make a cage.Grounding or not is not going to make any difference to the several million volts a lightning strike gives out.

Survival suit in a t-storm? Maybe a quieter hobby is in your future.


This study shows some advantage to grounding the bottom of the mast to the water
http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/SG/SG07100.pdf

Data for this study was provided by insurance surveyors and not checked for accuracy.


http://www.boatus.com/seaworthy/swlightning.asp

Last edited by ParadiseParrot; 09-10-2012 at 10:19 AM.
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